Monday, April 20, 2009

Fear Hall: The Beginning, or "College Isn't All It Cracked Up To Be"

When I was younger, I never read the Fear Hall books. I was “too old” at the time (as if there is such a thing.) So I was SOOO excited to read these when we got them. Fear Street all growed up and in college? What kind of trouble can we get into in an evil dorm? Premise sounds awesome.

It’s about four girls living in a room together, which sounds horrific already. Four girls in one room? The girls attend Ivy State College, and live in Fear Hall, an ivy-covered redbrick building. They live on the 13th floor (like, of course they do, but doesn’t 13 floors seem ENORMOUS for a redbrick college dorm?). Fear Hall is named after a benefactor of the school, Duncan Fear ( who doesn’t show up on the Fear Family Tree) and the whole place is cursed, yadda yadda yadda.

Hope is a fairly ordinary girl, but a bit chubby, which is pretty much the only thing she talks about. Angel is the slutty sexy one. Eden is sarcastic, plain and grungy, and writes to her mother every night. She also takes no notice of her appearance, and has never expressed any interest in boys ever. I was wondering if R. L. was going to take a “college experimental phase” twist in this series, but … well, you’ll see. Jasmine is beautiful but shy, and no one knows much about her, despite them all being friends since high school. They’re all really close and happy to be living together.

Hope is shaken awake in the middle of the night by Darryl, her boyfriend. He’s done something awful We find out immediately that Darryl is an abusive bastard – angry, possessive and violent. He thought he saw Hope out with another guy, although it was only Angel, being slutty in Hope’s clothes. He couldn’t handle it, and he carved up the guy. Yikes, WAY overreaction to that.

All the other girls wake up and freak out hearing the news. A know at the door freezes them all, and Hope makes the split second decision to hide Darryl, instead of turning him in. It’s not the cops, though, just the nosy girls from across the hall – Melanie, Mary and Margie, the 3 Ms. They’re wondering about the commotion, but Hope tries to play it off as a late-night gab fest between the girls. The 3 Ms are weirded out, but a bigger commotion outside the Hall distracts them all. Everyone stampedes downstairs to find the body of Angel’s date, sliced up. The 3Ms ask Hope whether she was out with him, but Hope’s all: it was Angel, why does everyone confuse us?

Hope goes back upstairs to confront Darryl, who is feeling very little remorse. He tells Hope if she does go out with another guy, he just might do it again. He runs before the police come to question Angel.

Jasmine is working her job at the campus coffee shop. You get the sense that Jasmine is smart, hard working, and poor – a tragic combination by R. L.’s standard. Angel and Eden come in to discuss Hope – they all want to turn Darryl in to the police, and are worried Hope is losing it. Her boss keeps glaring at her suspiciously, so they decide to confront Hope later, and she goes back to work. Later, while walking home, Jasmine is accosted by Darryl, who threatens to kill her or someone else if she tells the police.

Eden is writing to her mother, like always. Hope comes over and tells her a story about why she does not get along with her own mother. Hope’s mom had issues with Hope being a little bit chubby, and would call her Buttertubs in front of her friends. One day, when Hope was nine, she served herself and some friends big bowls of ice cream on a hot day, which sounds delish. Hope’s mom discovered them, and made her eat all the bowls, in front of her friends. Once she was done that, her mom forced her head into the carton and made her eat the whole thing – without her hands, just lapping it up like a dog. That story made me sick to my stomach, because I could actually imagine that happening. So, it stands to reason that Hope has some body image issues. Not to mention some mother issues.

Eden takes Hope to a pub to cheer her up, but Eden immediately meets some fun guys and Hope takes off without her noticing. Eden gets a huge crush on a cutie, Dave, which surprised me because I kinda thought she wasn’t into guys, but they make plans to meet up later. Eden goes home, wanting to see where Hope got off to hours ago. She finds Darryl in their room, reading her mail. He threatens her the way he threatened Jasmine – he’ll kill again if they push him. Darryl sounds like a stellar guy.

The next morning, Eden’s day starts out pretty good – she runs into Dave on her way to class, and they agree to meet for coffee afterwards. But then things take a strange turn. While her professor is taking role call, her name isn’t on the list, but Hope’s is. Eden is pretty disoriented, as I would be, because she’s been to that class all semester, and has no idea what is going on. She does have an idea that Darryl is behind it all, and is so frustrated, she goes to call the police – only to be interrupted by Hope, who pleads with her to wait a bit longer. Eden is unwilling to wait any longer, but is interrupted by Dave who appears around the corner. She hurries off.

Eden and Dave go out for a night on the town – Eden is wearing Hope’s clothes. You think you might want to lay off the clothing of the girlfriend with the murderous abusive boyfriend, but nope, Eden went for it. She sees the 3 Ms and they mistake her for Hope – this probably isn’t going to end well. But Eden cares about nothing but Dave. They go for a romantic date at an abandoned driving range … I was going to make fun of that, but that would actually be kind of fun. They are flirting something mad, getting all kissy, when … Darryl shows up. Always there to ruin a party. Eden tries to scream to warn Dave, but it’s too late – Darryl bludgeons Dave to death with the 5 iron.

Eden runs back to Fear Hall, covered in Dave’s blood. As she lays sobbing on the bed, Hope tries to convince her not to call the police. She tells another lovely story, about her mother, and how she always made her wear clothes that were too tight for her, so that her bulging fat was on display for everyone. Okay, that’s awful Hope, but what does that have to do with Darryl? He was the only person who’s ever not called her fat, and only loved her for who she was. Pathetic, yes, but still call the cops, I think. Eden cries herself to sleep.

Darryl shows up, with the intent to strangle Eden. Hope does the right thing by … telling him she’ll deal with Eden herself. When Eden wakes up, Hope knocks her out with a blow dryer, then ties her up and stuffs her in the closet. Psy-cho! She starts to freak out about what she did to her friend, and goes to release her and finds that she … is still in bed. Hope had imagined the whole thing. While she’s relieved she hadn’t actually attacked her friend, she’s fairly certain she’s losing it. Somehow, Darryl is to blame for this, everyone is sure.

Jasmine shows up to her shift at the coffee shop, late once again. Her boss is beyond furious – it seems unreasonably so, until he lets her know it’s because she completely missed her shift the day before … news to Jasmine. She has no recollection of the day before, so something mysterious is going on here. She wanders to the cafeteria to grab a coffee, trying to remember the day before, when Darryl comes over and joins her, all intense and psychotic like always. He tells her that he thinks Hope was going to call the cops on him, so he hurt her real bad. Like, bludgeon her to death hurt her? Jasmine runs home to find out, only to find Hope crying in bed. Darryl hurt her alright – he called her fat. Personally, I’d prefer that to a golf club in the brain, but Hope has her own issues.

Angel is in a parking lot, making out with a random. Her inner monologue tells us she often picks up guys in random parking lots, and restaurants and theatres and stores, because they make her feel good about herself. A few minutes alone with them in parked cars does wonders for her self-confidence … I guess. It makes you think Angel has as many issues as Hope. Just then, Darryl shows up. Angel tells Darryl to back off, and random guy tells Angel she’s frightening him. Then he jumps in his Toyota and speeds off.

Hope returns to the dorm around eleven, to face her three roommates. They discuss how bat-shit crazy Darryl is, and how he’s following them everywhere. Their only option is to call the police, and Eden has the honours of that. She tells them to come to the boys floor on Fear Hall to pick up Darryl. They think everything is going to be okay, until Darryl steps out from the fire escape. He heard everything, and you could say he wasn’t taking it well. He picks up Eden and cracks her back over his knee, then throws her out the window. Thirteen floors is a hell of a drop. The police come right then, and everyone freaks out and decides the best course of action is for all of them to sneak out onto the fire escape together. From there you can hear everything.

Hear the 3 Ms talking to the police. When the police say they got a call from Eden, they are confused, as they’ve never met a girl named Eden. As you can see, the room 13-B is a single room, with a single bed, with a single girl living there … Hope. Hope lives by herself.

Hope is all of the girls? Hope has multiple personalities. That is – awesome. And I never saw it coming. I could usually write these books in my sleep, but Hope having multiple personalities is way out there. The question I’m left hanging with is … is Darryl a part of Hope? Or he his own special brand of crazy? We’ll find out soon, since this blog is …



Anonymous said...

That was far better than I was expecting. See, I was expecting one of the girls to be imaginary, but three of them surpassed my predictions. While I like cannon fodder (or should I say canon fodder, oh oh) Fear Streets, I'm also very fond of the screwy ones. I'm impressed, and looking forward to part 2.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I never read this, but I saw that twist about halfway through this blog.

Not meaning to give you your own inferiority complex, haha.

jenn said...

I never read the book, but I was getting multiple personalities based off your review. I think it was everyone confusing one of the other girls for Hope lol

HelenB said...

I cannot wait for the second part of this shocking two-part special! No, seriously.

Devika said...

Haha that ending is fucking brilliant! Also, this is one of my favorite entries in the blog! Luvzit!

M.H Stine said...

i love it rly cool prob my fav also im writing this on my DSi @®©™…∴∞♪♭#〒※%°£¢

A. M. Stine said...

Sooo what is a DSi? Are we flattered?

Chad Walters said...

"DSi" is the newest version of the Nintendo DS, which is sort of like a Game Boy, but not.

Anonymous said...

This has been mentioned ten hundred times, and I'm gonna say it TWISTED if you like the college theme...

Ames said...

I enjoyed it and did not see the twist either :)

LAK said...

That was interesting! I think the only giveaway may have been the names of the girls. All within the same 'family'

Anonymous said...

Looking up "Jasmine," I see that you're right! That's quite clever.

Peter LoCasto said...

You know, I read the Fear Hall books when I was in middle school, but I only had very vague memories of what happened. I totally forgot about the split personality thing and thought Hope really had gone on the run because of her real, psychotic boyfriend.

I re-read the two books four years ago, and suddenly the Fear Hall arc became two of my favorite Fear Street books of all time.